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Cough in children: new guidelines from the British Thoracic Society
  1. Duncan Keeley
  1. Dr Duncan James Keeley, The Health Centre, East Street, Thame, Oxon OX9 3JZ, UK; duncan.keeley{at}

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All children cough, many children cough often or repeatedly, and a significant proportion of these children are taken to see doctors. The majority of coughing children will have self limiting viral infections for whom no medical treatment is needed. The challenge for clinicians, particularly in primary care, is to identify those children needing specific intervention. Among the more common problems in this category are significant bacterial infection and asthma/allergic rhinitis, but there is a large range of rarer conditions which need to be considered. The British Thoracic Society have produced guidelines to help in this task.1


The guidelines were written by a small group of specialist respiratory paediatricians based on experience and a literature search, and finalised after comments from general practitioners and general paediatricians. They cover acute, recurrent and chronic cough in children up to age 12 years without known lung disease. Guidelines for chronic cough in children were produced for the American College of Chest Physicians in 2006.2 Compared with the American guidelines the British …

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  • Competing interests: None declared.